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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

A vetala, or baital, is a vampire-like being from Hindu mythology. The vetala are defined as spirits inhabiting corpses. These corpses may be used as vehicles for movement (as they no longer decay while so inhabited); but a vetala may also leave the body at will.

General Description

In Hindu folklore, the vetala is an evil spirit who haunts cemeteries and takes demonic possession of corpses. They make their displeasure known by troubling humans. They can drive people mad, kill children, and cause miscarriages, but also guard villages.

They are hostile spirits of the dead trapped in the 'twilight zone' between life and afterlife. These creatures can be repelled by the chanting of holy mantras. One can free them from their ghostly existence by performing their funerary rites. Being unaffected by the laws of space and time, they have an uncanny knowledge about the past, present, and future and a deep insight into human nature. Therefore many sorcerers seek to capture them and turn them into slaves.

A sorcerer once asked King Vikramaditya to capture a vetala who lived in a tree that stood in the middle of a crematorium. The only way to do that was by keeping silent.

Every time Vikramaditya caught the vetala, the vetala would enchant the king with a story that would end with a question. No matter how hard he tried, Vikramaditya would not be able to resist answering the question. This would enable the vetala to escape and return to his tree. The stories of the vetala have been compiled in the book Baital Pachisi.

There is also a strong Vetala cult in the Konkan region, under the names of Betal, Vetal, etc. It seems, however, that the relation between the literary Vetala and this demigod's is feeble at best. There is a Shree Betal temple ( बेताळ ) in Amona, Goa. Vetal is the worshipper (or sevak) of KalBhairav and is the head of all spirits and ghouls and vampires and all kinds of pisachas. He has another form which is a more potent and fiery form , that of Agni Vetal who is the sevak of none other than Kalika. Lord Agnivetal has flames on his head and controls fire. He is also known as Agya Vetal. Agnivetal is used by Tantriks to perform evil black magic on people. But it isn't Lord Agnivetal's fault because the Tantriks misuse the powers given to them on propritiating Agnivetal(rather his Daityas which are at his feet-they are the ones who accept the blood sacrifices). So one who worships Lord Agnivetal and Lord Vetal and Lord Shiva can be rest assured from evil attacks on them by jealous relatives, neighbours etc.

In Muslim religion, Agnivetal is Hajimullah the head of all jinns. So, actually speaking when Musalman karni(black magic) is sent against people, one should again worship Lord Shiva and Agnivetal or Devi Kalika to protect oneself from Muslim Black magic.


Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Vetala" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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